ATP synthase moves me to worship the Creator.
Every cell on Earth, from simple bacteria to human brain cells, needs a molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate; pictured to the left) in order to do a wide variety of tasks. ATP is used as the cell’s energy molecule; the source of energy for everything from cell movement and protein synthesis to muscle contraction and transport of ions and molecules across cell membranes.
ATP is synthesized by a variety of means, but the most prolific source of ATP in your body is what is called the electron transport chain, which is part of the overall cellular respiration process in which food molecules are broken down in the presence of oxygen. I am currently teaching about cellular respiration—glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, and the electron transport chain—in my high school biology class, and have found animations on the internet that are useful for illustrating some difficult concepts. Even if you don’t know—or care—what glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, or the electron transport chain are, these animations from North Dakota State University are worth watching.
This second picture is of ATP synthase, a complex of proteins that is used to create ATP. Just as many can be moved to worship the Creator while walking under the stars on a moonless night, I am moved to worship God as I contemplate how complex these giant molecular machines are, and how they are integrated into a whole system designed to extract energy from our food one tiny bit at a time.
Electron transport chain animation
Grace and Peace
Question: How much ATP does a typical 70 kg (150 lb) person create and consume in a 24-hour period?Answer: About 70 kg. A human will produce and consume about his or her body weight in ATP during a 24-hour day. At any one time, your body contains on the order of 50 grams of ATP, and it is constantly synthesized and used as it is needed.